Offshore kite energy could use turbine foundations

The Ampryx system could utilise former wind turbine foundations and transition pieces The Ampryx system could utilise former wind turbine foundations and transition pieces

The Airborne Wind Energy System developed by Ampryx Power is working on a new tether that will enable units to generate up to 2MW writes Dag Pike

Working in partnership with rope specialist DSM the new tether will be used in conjunction with the tethered aircraft system developed by Ampryx. The tether connects an unmanned kite-type aircraft to a winch system on the ground with power being generated as the tether is pulled in and out from the winch. By flying at a height of between 200 and 450 metres the system exploits the more consistent higher winds beyond the reach of conventional wind turbines.

Commercial versions of the kite will generate up to 2MW but currently the company is working on a smaller prototype. This prototype will fly at a test site in Ireland this year and with this fully automatic prototype Ampryx Power will test the technologies, architecture, organization, and processes for the future commercial product. A suitable lightweight but very strong tether is a vital part of the development of the 2MW unit and working with DSM the development will see a tether constructed using Dyneema; the world’s strongest rope fibre.

Ampryx Power sees the initial commercial application of this innovative technology for ‘repowering’ the first generation of offshore wind farms. Constructed in the early 2000s and designed for onshore rather than offshore use, many of these turbines will reach the end of their lives between 2020 and 2025. The supporting infrastructure, however, will not and the AWES can be applied to extend the life of these wind farms by retaining the foundations and infrastructure and adding a platform to launch and land a tethered aircraft. In the further future, after repowering first generation wind farms, the technology can be applied offshore on floating platforms and in remote areas on land. With this technology new areas can be unlocked for cost-effective harvesting of wind energy. The Dutch development fund Wind op Zee has granted a subsidy for the tether project. It involves both developing the mathematical models needed to design and test optimized AWES tethers and building a test setup for scaling up tethers for megawatt-scale applicatio

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